Robert Sobel, Historian
"What will they think of next!” was a 1920s saying, because new things were continually coming out. And there were new things which you could enjoy, not just for the few. So it was a period of high hope. That’s why the depression was so severe — because we started so high, we fell so low…
[In the 1920s] every part of the economy did well, except for coal mining and certain parts of agriculture. But this was a period in which the American household gets the washing machine, gets a refrigerator, goes off gas light and gets electricity in some cities, in which the family buys a car and goes on a long vacation. This didn’t occur before the 1920s.
In 1920, for the first time, the census showed that a majority of Americans lived in cities. We were becoming an urbanized society. And if you lived in a city in 1925, ’26 or thereabouts, you had all these things going for you. In addition, you were getting your first vacation. People didn’t get vacations before the 1920s. You learned how to buy goods on time, so you didn’t defer your expectations. You were working a five-and-a-half day week, not a six-day week… So things looked pretty good.
As the star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Annie Oakley thrilled audiences around the world with her shooting feats. Part of the Wild West collection.
Meet the Wizard of Odd. Robert Ripley was a new media star and the most popular man in America.
Legendary bank robber John Dillinger garnered the admiration of many struggling Americans, but FBI took him down with a message: crime doesn't pay.
Thoroughbred racehorse Seabiscuit was the long shot that captured America's heart during the Depression.
The story of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century.
A courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.
Between 1854 and 1929 more than 100,000 abused or orphaned children were sent by train to the Midwest to begin new lives in foster families.
Before World War II, young Chinese Americans defied cultural tradition in San Francisco's Chinatown, previously closed to outsiders.